Sounds like the average television commercial – doesn’t it?

high school studentI did a seminar recently for a group of high school seniors. I was told they were not necessarily underachievers, but had no firm plans after graduation. Some had thought about college, a job or the military, but most seemed only interested in hanging around waiting for something to happen. The common thread was a strong case of “Senioritis” and a short attention span for remaining school requirements.

The teacher that sponsored the seminar told me previous speakers had used the standard follow your dreams advice and ended up with a group of bored and distracted students. They had heard the same message since preschool days watching Barney and Friends, and he was concerned it didn’t say enough about what they would encounter in the real world.

Even though I don’t wear a purple dinosaur outfit, I’m the last person to discourage anyone from following their dreams. But the reality of the real world is not everyone will win The Voice or have their idea bankrolled on Shark Tank. My assignment that day was to keep the students interested and involved in my seminar on communication skills and share practical real world advice.

But as usual, I also had my own agenda…

Everyone has a talent and a desire for something. It may not even involve becoming The Voice or the next Bill Gates. But whatever it might be, it doesn’t have much of a chance becoming a reality by “hanging around waiting for something to happen.”

Groucho 2

The Wacky Professor

Lucky for me, the seminar was in the school’s library. So I opened with a very effective follow your dreams message by pulling two of my books from the shelf. It got their attention. Then to hold their attention (staring at book covers for more than ten seconds is not as interesting as checking text messages for most high school students), I turned the attention to them.

I asked about their personal interests.

With this particular group of students, no one said a word about math, science or history. They talked about music, poetry, fashion and art. And when they expressed their ideas, the enthusiasm was obvious. They wanted to talk about it and involve the others. I imagined it was quite different than their normal participation in math, science or history classes.

So I took it a step further and asked for two volunteers. Most of them raised their hands (probably unlike during the classes mentioned above), but since we had a limited amount of time until the class bell, we could only go with two.

One was a girl into fashion and the other a boy who played guitar.

I told the girl she was going to tell us about her favorite sweater. With the boy, we wanted to know about his dream guitar. Then I gave them a quick assignment. I asked each to write down twothoughts about their item. I wanted to know:

  1. How owning the item it made them feel and…
  2. How owning the same item could make someone else feel.

Then they would each talk about their item in a way that would convince the other students they HAD to have either the sweater or the guitar.

Sounds like a sales pitch – doesn’t it?

Then I borrowed an exercise from my stand-up comedy workshops. I told them to imagine we were at a party. All their friends had told interesting and funny stories – and now it was their chance to talk. How would they tell us about their item in a creative way that would express their feelings AND make us laugh?

This is similar to an audience participation game I use at conferences with business people and educators looking to improve their communication skills. In a nutshell, the idea is to make your message more effective while using creative and humorous enhancements to keep it interesting.

Guitar PlayerIf I could, for my next business conference seminar I’d bring these students with me, take a seat in the audience and let them talk. She basically told the other girls how great they would look in her sweater and how, of course, they would attract more boys. He told the guys how they could look like rock stars with his dream guitar and of course, attract more girls.

Sounds like the average television commercial – doesn’t it?

Yes, they were a lot goofier (for lack of a better term) than you’d expect during a real business world sales pitch or networking opportunity. But the end result was the same.

* They held our attention by delivering their message in a way we found very entertaining and memorable.

Sounds like the average television commercial – doesn’t it?

In this case it was using creativity and humor to express and share their interests. In the case of high school students, their interests are what could determine future careers. For others in the real business world already pursuing careers, looking to expand or even make a change, better communication leads to better opportunities. The real world is competitive and to stand out from the competition you must know how to express yourself in a productive and interesting way.

Sounds like the average television commercial – doesn’t it?

Better communication leads to better opportunities. And along with that purple dinosaur, I’m not going to tell anyone they shouldn’t try to make their dreams come true. Sometimes it all depends on how you communicate them.

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Comment? Please use the form below. In the meantime, thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!

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Dave Schwensen has designed and instructs university courses in communications and presentation skills. He is an author, speaker, trainer, and nationally recognized humor and comedy coach. For information about training seminars and keynotes for your next event or conference visit www.TalkingForSuccess.com

For Dave’s author page on Amazon.com CLICK HERE.

Copyright 2017 – North Shore Publishing

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Social Networking: Turning conversations into connections

Social networking is a term my wife says I use too much. But for me it’s what business and life in general is all about:

Communicating with each other.

Missing the human factor

Missing the
human factor

When you stop and think about it, how effective would your customer service, sales, teamwork, or networking be if you communicated like an android (think Star Wars robotic dialogue) by leaving out the human factor – the social element – of talking?

Too many people hear the term social networking and immediately think of Twitter, Instagram, email, and online sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and probably dozens more I haven’t heard of. Except that’s not what I’m referring to when I talk about social networking.

What I’m referring to is the social networking that happens face to face or even by phone when personally interacting with clients, co-workers, or during training seminars. The person sitting next to you at work, standing in line for your business, interested in your sales pitch, or waiting for your experienced words of wisdom expects – and deserves – more than a text message or written greeting on his Facebook page.

Deliver your message verbally – actually put the words together and say them – and your conversations can turn into connections. And we all know connections lead to more opportunities, which is the benefit of social networking.

Want more benefits? Okay, how about these…

  • Better customer service
  • Increased sales
  • Improved teamwork
  • Memorable training seminars

It’s an age-old theory and nothing I’ve made up. But sometimes we need a reminder about how a personal touch can make a difference.

Age old theory

Age old theory

Example: Instead of announcing “Next,” and bracing himself for another problem, it’s more effective for a customer service rep to smile and ask, “How may I help you?”

I know because I’ve been there and tried both. The happiness factor may not fix the problem, but it can certainly help relieve a potentially stressful situation. That’s why so many successful businesses include these stress-busting tips in their employee training.

If you don’t believe me, check out last month’s article about a certain airline based in the Southwest and turning a profit in a competitive industry. Their employees receive mandatory training in the happiness factor.

In the university course I’ve developed for public speakers (Tips, Techniques & Top Secret Information on How to Become a Better Public Speaker) I talk about how to deliver your message in a way it’s not only heard, but listened to and remembered. And if you’ve been following my communications tips in these articles, I listed three guaranteed ways to do this. Here’s a reminder:

The problem many of us have as communicators can be compared to the same reason why television commercials usually last 20 seconds or less. Audiences have a short attention span. Go ahead – blame it on technology. I do. People today are used to getting information fast.

Now, I could suggest going back to an earlier newsletter, but to save time and not tax both our attention spans, I’ll repeat three solid tips.

If you want to keep someone’s attention for longer than 20 seconds:

  1. Keep them interested
  2. Entertain them
  3. Humor them
Keep 'em interested!

Keep ’em interested!

Sorry for the 3-peat information, but at least now we’re on the same page. And speaking of pages, here’s one from my Presentation Skills Workbook on how to achieve the first goal – keeping your listener interested through verbal social networking communication:

Commit To The Message

Here’s a secret from the entertainment world shared by professional speakers, comedians and actors. If a listener thinks you’re not being honest with them, you’ll lose his respect and attention. The first step in communicating your message is to believe in what you are talking about. Truly be committed to what you are saying. In other words, cut the fat from your true message (the information you really want to convey) and deliver it with conviction.

Yeah… I know… this advice alone could make a conversation really boring. But remember, I’m also a humor / comedy coach and stress the value of communication enhancements using humor and creativity. Combine those tips with committing to your message and you’ll be a lethal communicator with a License To Talk (sorry, too many James Bond movies). But for right now we’re still competing with technology and your clients and co-workers don’t want to sift through a lot of adjectives to hear what you have to say.

Make The Message Interesting:

Know your message is important, which is why you are delivering it. If you are or appear to be sharing information that will benefit your listener, he will listen. Your message will be remembered if your client or co-worker perceives it as:

  1. New
  2. Different
  3. Personally beneficial

Now, since I also practice what I preach, I’ll stop here. The workbook for my training seminar is 46 pages long and I’m sure both of us don’t have the attention span to review all the highlights in one article. Besides, it took longer than 20 seconds for you to read this. Without any humorous or creative enhancements, I ran the risk of sounding like a Twitter, text, email, or android – and that’s no way to build a connection.

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Dave Schwensen has designed and instructs university courses in communications and presentation skills. He is an author, keynote speaker, trainer, consultant, and nationally-recognized comedy coach. He is a 2015-2016 CILC Pinnacle Award Winner for video conferences on communication skills. For information about scheduling Dave’s interactive keynote or training seminars for your next event, visit www.TalkingForSuccess.com

For Dave’s author page on Amazon.com CLICK HERE.

Copyright 2017 – North Shore Publishing

Top Ten Networking Jokes for 2013

Thank you once again for allowing me to stay in touch with these newsletters. As you know my focus is on using communication skills enhanced with humor and creativity. But today I’ve decided to forgo the “enhanced” version and go right for the laughs.

It’s a good way to communicate.

I’ve gone through the Jokes of the Week submitted by newsletter readers in 2013 and came up with the funniest ten. Of course I always point out that sending in a joke submission is a networking opportunity because I’ll include a link for your business or event website. Some of the following yuck-ster’s forgot to do that or were promoting events that have already ended. Otherwise, when there’s a link please take a look to see what these funny people are up to.

Keep Laughing!! – Dave Schwensen

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You’re Talking – But Is Anyone Really Listening?

Top Ten Networking Jokes

1. The owner of a golf course in the south was confused about paying an invoice. So he decided to ask his secretary for some mathematical help. He called her into his office and said, “Y’all went to college and I need some help. If I was to give you $20,000 minus 14%, how much would you take off?”

The secretary thought for a moment and then replied, “Every-thang but my earrings.” – Terry Jones

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2. A woman is teaching her dog some basic tricks. She said, “Sit” and the dog sat.  She said, “Beg” and the dog put his paws up.  She said, ‘lie” and the dog said, “My!  You’re looking lovely today.” – Bob Simpson, LINK 

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3. A cowboy rides into town, stops at the local saloon, goes in and orders two “red eyes” goes outside and his horse has had its tail painted blue. The cowboy comes back into the saloon and says I’ll have two red eyes and I want to know who painted my horse blue. A fellow about six foot six , three axe handles across the shoulders in white overalls with blue pain on stands up and says “and who wants to know”.

The cowboy says, “I just wanted to let you know the first coat is dry. – Lou Harrison-Smith, LINK

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4. A long line at the bank. Three tellers working. Guy goes up to the middle teller, pulls out a gun and says, “This is a robbery. Put all the money in the bag and don’t say or do anything or I’ll shoot you.”

The teller complies and he looks to the right and there’s a woman standing there staring at him. “Did you see anything here?” he asks. “Yes, I…” BANG he shoots her.

He looks to his left and another woman is staring at him. “Did you just see anything here?” “Well, umm, yes, I…” BANG he shoots her.

He turns around and there is a man next in line and he asks him if he saw anything. He says, “No sir, I didn’t see anything… but my wife here…” – Marc Jaffe (founder of Shaking With Laughter fundraiser to fight Parkinson’s) LINK

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5. Coming into town I saw the flag at the Fire Station was at half mast.  I said to the lady ‘Somebody die?’   She said ‘Yeah, the guy pulling it all the way to the top.’ – Charlie Adams

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To schedule Dave as the speaker / trainer for your next event visit

www.TalkingForSuccess.com

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6. Hospital regulations require a wheel chair for patients being discharged. However, while working as a student nurse, I found one elderly gentleman already dressed and sitting on the bed with a suitcase at his feet, who insisted he didn’t need my help to leave the hospital.

After a chat about rules being rules, he reluctantly let me wheel him to the elevator. On the way down I asked him if his wife was meeting him.

‘I don’t know,’ he said. ‘She’s still upstairs in the bathroom changing out of her hospital gown.’ – Joanie

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7. “Why did the Little Mermaid wear seashells? Because D-shells were too big.” – Debbie the Flight Attendant

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8. Morris Schwartz is on his deathbed, knows the end is near, is with his nurse, his wife, his daughter and 2 sons. “So”, he says to them:

 ”Bernie, I want you to take the Beverly Hills houses.”

 ”Sybil, take the apartments over in Los Angeles Plaza.”

 ”Hymie, I want you to take the offices over in City Center.”

 ”Sarah, my dear wife, please take all the residential buildings downtown.”

The nurse is just blown away by all this, and as Morris slips away, she says , “Mrs. Schwartz, your husband must have been such a hard working man to have accumulated all this property”.

Sarah replies, “Property? … the schmuck has a paper route!” – Joel Schwartz, LINK

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9. A lady hires a plumber to come to her house and fix her sink. On the phone, she tells him that she won’t be home but she’ll leave a check for his services on the counter. Then she adds, “I have a pit bull and a parrot. Don’t worry – the pit bull is a good dog and will not bother you but whatever you do, don’t talk to the parrot!”

The plumber goes to the house and sure enough, he is able to get in and passes the pit bull without a problem. He begins his work only to hear the parrot begin to scream and screech, “Hey there, stupid! What are you doing, you big goof?! Who’s stupid and goofy, stupid and goofy, stupid and goofy!”

Finally the plumber can’t take it anymore and he turns around and faces the parrot and shouts, “That’s it Parrot! You’re doomed! Now I’m coming after you!”

The parrot looks a the dog and says, “Sick’em Angela.” – Sally Edwards, Author of Comedy MomLINK

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10. Two brothers are terrible trouble makers. They are always breaking things, stealing things, lying and making all kinds of general trouble. The parents have tried everything to get the boys to change, to no avail. Finally out of options, they ask their pastor if he can help. He says he will talk to the boys, but only one at a time.

The parents drop off the youngest and go home, promising to return to get him soon. The boy sits in a chair across from the pastor’s desk and they just look at each other. Finally the pastor says, “Where is God?”

The boy just sits there and doesn’t answer. The pastor begins to look stern and loudly says, “Where is God?”

The little boy shifts in his seat, but still doesn’t answer. The pastor is starting to get angry at the boy’s refusal to converse and practically shouts, “Where is God?!” To the pastor’s surprise, the little boy jumps out of his chair and runs out of the office.

The boy runs all the way home, up the stairs and into his brother’s room. He shuts the door and pants, “We’re in BIG TROUBLE. God’s missing and they think we did it!” – Rob Telecky (Comics For Kids Fundraiser – University Hospital, Cleveland)

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Dave Schwensen has designed and instructs university courses in communications and presentation skills. He is an author, keynote speaker, trainer, consultant, and nationally-recognized comedy coach. He is a CILC Pinnacle Award Winner for conferences on communication skills. For information about scheduling Dave’s interactive keynote or training seminars for your next event, visit www.TalkingForSuccess.com

For Dave’s author page on Amazon.com CLICK HERE.

Have a comment? Please use the link below or send an email to dave@davepresents.com – I’d love to hear from you.

Copyright 2014 – North Shore Publishing